Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Great Meadows-Concord

I decided to head on down to the Great Meadows today in Concord due to all of the posts on MassBird regarding the Yellow-headed Blackbird and potential juvenile Little-blue Heron. My inspiration was my new pal I named Rita who is basically my new GPS device aka a Garmin. Yes I finally bit the bullet and decided to get one as I am venturing off by myself a lot more to bird, run, hike, etc and I am sick of getting lost.

After I figured out how to program the darn thing, I realized how much easier it is to from point A to point B without getting lost which is a good thing because I was not born with a sense of direction, so Rita has turned out to be a wise investment already! I actually considered getting a fancier model that you could take with you while running/hiking and spoke with a hiker I know and he said most of them work well unless you have tress in the way and at that point, most are useless unless you spend big bucks to get the top of the line models. So I guess I will settle for Rita right now and continue to rely on very well marked trails for when I want to venture off by foot. ;o)
Anyhow, I got there at about 7AM and the place was already filled with fellow birders who had the same goal as my own. We all searched aimlessly for the Yellow-headed Blackbird but it was nowhere to be found (at least as long as I was there). A birder was able to get a look at a bird that had potential to be the immature Little-blue, but the darn thing was deep in hiding and wouldn't' do any of us the honors of showing us its legs which would have helped confirmation some!!! I decided to venture off on my own after a while to check out the shore birds on some dried up mud banks and when I went back, the area was devoid of birders as the heat became unforgivable at that point so most hurried back to their cars and their AC's!

One of the birds we did see though (and the highlight of my day), was a family of Virgina Rails including three young who appear to have been recently born if you look at their downy feathers as well as their inability to fly. We could hear some begging like calls in the thick cattails and waited patiently for whatever it was to grace us with its presence. It sounded nothing like an adult Virginia Rail so all we could do was play the guessing game until one decided to show itself. Basically the parents were on one side of the cat tails and the three young were on the other. After a while the parents would call out to their young in an attempt to get them to join them, and finally two decided to gather up their courage and make the voyage. Let me tell you they are fast little birds and it was so cute to see them run on past us to be with their parents.

The Marsh Wrens were there of course, but the heat actually caused them to be a little more subdued then they usually are (both visually and by ear), so I had to settle for a couple of lousy photos including the one above.

A couple of people reported there were a few species of shorebirds over at the mud banks toward the back end of the main trail so I decided to venture over there to go check them out. There were a couple of Killdeer, a few Least Sandpipers, a report of a Greater Yellowlegs that could not be found, even with a scope and a couple of Solitary Sandpipers which I believe are two above. Correct me if I am wrong as shorebirds still confuse me, but I made my confirmation based on its bold eye ring and the dark cap on the crown. Someone also said they saw some Spotted Sandpipers which always throws me for a loop as I confuse the Solitary and the Spotted all the time, but the birds above have an eye ring as far as I can see and not a white eye stripe.

I also saw a family of Wood Ducks who appeared to have been in eclipse plumage as you can see from the photo above. I was the only person at this location and stood motionless so they didn't see me so I was able to get my first half way decent photo of this particular species of bird. Usually all they need to hear are my footsteps and panic sets in an away they go. They either didn't see me or they couldn't fly, or both, so it was a victory on my behalf as this was one of my nemesis birds of the year.

Such pretty ducks even without the magnificent breeding plumage they have.

And a male American Goldfinch posing for the camera.

Check out this handsome little bullfrog a couple of birders pointed out to me. He was sitting there perched on a rock and blended in perfectly with its background. It's a good thing too as there were a couple of Great-blue Herons around the area this morning! I was able to crouch down real low and get a decent shot of him as he just watched totally unamused.

Sigh, isn't he dreamy!

Dragonfly shots as well as I am trying to experiment with my camera and subjects more.

And another one. check out the red leaf to the left of him! Did we even have summer this year?

Speaking of cameras, I happened to run across an awesome mountain biking blog (don't ask), that goes by the name of Big Wheel Building, and this guy takes incredible pictures. Do yourself a favor and just glance in there to see what I mean. Not only does he mountain bike, but he takes his photography totally out of the box and presents things in ways I would never have imagined on my own. With that inspiration, I decided to try some of this on my own. Of course, not even close to this guys pictures, but it's a start. I love the pictures of the mountain bikes he has in the background the best! Must think of getting one myself next year as it would take my birding photography to a whole new level!! Joking......Kind of...... The first picture is a reflection shot that I thought was kind of cool.

A reflection shot of a water flower of some sort that I flipped upside down and this is the end result!

This level of photography also allows me to practice using the focus features to my camera more which is very much needed.

Take care all


forestal said...

Wonderful photos, i love the reflection shot

sounds like a good day birding


NCmountainwoman said...

We have a Garmin and there's a great program for mountain trails. It is fantastic, except when you are actually ON the trails. Then, for much of the time the mountains you are hiking are actually in the way. However, you can get reception often enough to make it worthwhile.

Steve said...

Looks like you had another great day out with your new best friend! Great photos Kim. I love the frogs, and the last flower, great angle. I use map, old fasioned I know, but it does seem to work for me and the batteries don't run out!

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